The Earth surface is constantly shifting and moving, and sometimes this results into devastating earthquakes that cause a trail of destruction and loss of life. With the global population on the rise and urban areas expanding, more and more people are finding themselves at risk of facing the danger of earthquakes.

The question is now what engineers do about this problem. If you don’t know the answer to this question, don’t worry. In this article, we’ll discuss the crucial role of engineers in earthquake disaster response and recovery efforts.

One of the first things to do as engineer in response to this problem is to prepare yourself, and there is no better than getting more knowledge to help solve the problem. The following are five tips on how to manage earthquake related problems as an engineer.

1. Retrofit existing buildings

Retrofitting existing buildings can go along to improve their chances against an earthquake. This can be achieved by introducing new structural elements to buildings to help improve their earthquake resistance. There a number of methods used to retrofit including; introduction of shear walls and steel braces.

2. Adopt seismic design for new projects

For new construction projects, a lot can still be done to protect them against the threat of earth quakes. As a civil engineer, you should incorporating advanced seismic design techniques to ensure that structures are able to withstand earthquakes. As an example, you can use seismic analysis techniques ,such as the model response spectrum and time history analysis, to predict the response of a building to an earthquake. In some countries, seismic hazard maps are available which you can also use as a basis for your design as shown below.

The seismic design of a structure should also account for the materials and construction methods required specifically to resist earthquake forces. For instance, in terms of the choice of material, you will have to select ductile materials such as steel, and avoid brittle materials like stone and brick.

Seismic Hazard Map. Source: National Institute of Standards and Technology, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

3. Develop Early Warning Systems

Today, it is possible to detect seismic activity and provide early warning alerts to help people prepare and evacuate if necessary. As a civil engineer, you opt for the use of the seismic sensors ,such as the one shown in the photo below, to help with the early detection of earthquake activity especially for densely populated cities and regions. The use of such systems on help limit on the number of lives lost during an earthquake event.

Seismic Sensor on White Island volcano. Source: David Broad, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

4. Adopt Building Information Modeling (BIM) systems

BIM systems are a revolutionary technology for designing, planning , and managing construction projects. Using BIM systems, you can simulate different earthquake scenarios and assess the behavior of the building under each scenario.

They can also help in the selection of building materials. For example, by simulating the behavior of different materials under seismic forces, BIM systems can help in selection of the most suitable materials for use in order to resist earthquakes.

BIM systems can also help with maintenance and repair which is crucial for buildings after an earthquake. Using a digital model of the building, you can identify areas in the building that need repair.

5. Devlop A Risk Assessment and Mitigation Plan

One of the key ways to respond to the threat of earthquakes is to do a risk assessment. Using risk assessments, you can identify areas that are most vulnerable to earthquakes, and develop mitigation measures to reduce on the risk of damage and loss of life. Some of the measures that you can adopt include; relocating vulnerable populations, improving infrastructure and emergency response systems, and strengthening existing structures.


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